Sudan: info campaign for Ethiopians to start
UNHCR and the government of Sudan on Saturday will launch an information campaign in Sudan's eastern refugee camps to pave the way for a planned massive repatriation to Eritrea that is scheduled to start later this year for more than 180,000 refugees. Most of them have been exiled in Sudan for decades. They are one of the world's oldest refugee groups. During the information campaign the refugees will be told of travel arrangements for their return to Eritrea as well as food, household and cash entitlements they can count on. Although few of the refugees are returning to areas that have mine risks, mine awareness information will also be made available. The information campaign will be followed immediately by a registration of refugees who have volunteered to return to Eritrea.
The first group of Eritrean refugees fled to Sudan as early as 1967 during Eritrea's war of independence from Ethiopia. At the time they were considered Ethiopian nationals. Some 147,000 of them remain in a string of 23 camps close to Sudan's border with Eritrea. UNHCR expects to complete the return of these refugees - together with some 27,000 who fled Eritrea last year - by December 2002. An estimated 62,000 will have returned home by the end of this year. The planned return operation stems from an agreement reached one year ago between Sudan, Eritrea and UNHCR.